Wes Hickman (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)
– U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today was awarded the Military Coalition’s 2005 Award of Merit in recognition of his work to expand access to health care for members of the National Guard, Reserves, and their families.
The award is the Coalition’s highest honor. Members of the Coalition include the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Reserve Officers Association (ROA), and the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS), among others.
Graham was recognized for his effort, along with Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York), to extend access to TRICARE military health care benefits for members of the National Guard and Reserve.
In July, Graham secured unanimous Senate passage of his amendment to the defense authorization bill expanding access to healthcare benefits to all drilling members of the National Guard and Reserve regardless of their activation status. The defense authorization bill remains under consideration in the U.S. Senate.
Graham effort builds on the expansion the Senators secured in last year’s Department of Defense Authorization bill which provides an extension of one additional year of TRICARE eligibility to Guard and Reserve Members for every 90 days of active duty.
Joe Barnes, Co-Chairman of the Military Coalition and National Executive Secretary of the Fleet Reserve Association, lauded the pair for their efforts.
“They’ve set a great example in working closely together to highlight this as a bipartisan issue that’s important for the country,” said Barnes. “They convinced a majority of senators to put aside party differences and recognize that we can’t demand such heavy sacrifices from Guard and Reserve families without doing our part to ensure they have health coverage continuity, regardless of their deployment status.”
The Military Coalition is comprised of 36 military and veterans organizations representing more than 5.5 million members around the world, including active duty, National Guard, Reserve, and retired members and veterans of the uniformed services, as well as their families and survivors. A full list of the 36 organizations comprising the Military Coalition can be found on their website http://themilitarycoalition.org/Members.htm